In Conversation with Priya Amin of Flexable
Describe your business in a few words?
Flexable provides virtual childcare services for working parents.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I started my business out of selfish necessity – I have two boys and always found it hard to attend professional events or work when childcare fell through. I was working as a consultant at the time after being a stay at home mom for 2 years. I couldn’t attend networking events or take client meetings – essential do my job – if I didn’t have access to childcare. So I started Flexable to solve that problem
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I have an MBA and worked in corporate America for IBM and Nestle as a product and brand manager. I left my career in 2012 to be home with my then 2 year old because I couldn’t find the right balance between work and life.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Yes – I always wanted to start something, but wasn’t sure what it was.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
We used our personal networks and word of mouth to start promoting our business. My co-founder and I were also accepted to an accelerator program in Pittsburgh, so we leveraged press to gain awareness in the market.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Right when the pandemic started, our co-founder had to step away and I was left to run the company alone. It was very hard, and the most challenging time in our business’s history. We had little money in the bank and just 3 core team members, and I had to let go of all our caregivers. But we somehow pulled through and managed to successfully pivot our company to once again be in a place of growth just 8 months later.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
In 2019, we partnered with one of the largest healthcare systems in Pittsburgh, and we brought our on-site “pop up” childcare services to their Women’s Behavioral Health clinic, specifically to help postpartum depression patients get the care they needed. It is the most important work I’ve ever done in my life and I am so incredibly proud to have been able to help new mothers get therapy.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Whenever I hire someone new, I hire based on cultural fit first, then based on skill level. This is backwards from what most companies do, but I believe culture is queen. I have cultivated a good gut over the years on whether someone is a cultural fit or not, and for the most part I’ve been spot on. The question I use to determine this is “why do you want to work here?”
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We were completely upended – I lost my co-founder and we had to pivot within weeks of the pandemic. I had to let go of 80% of my workforce and I thought we were going to go under. It was extremely hard but we persevered and made it through
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We are currently offering virtual childcare and partner with organizations to provide our services as a benefit to their employees. Currently we cover 20,000 employees across the country and we’re hoping to triple that by the end of Q1 2021. Over the next several years we want to be a staple benefit and change the makeup of the childcare landscape to continue supporting working parents exactly when they need care.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
To trust myself and my gut more than anything. My gut is rarely if ever wrong.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
This is such an uphill battle, and it takes so much resilience and persistence to keep going. I should have taken more breaks throughout the process to allow myself the time to recharge.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Oof, I don’t think I’ve been too grounded, it’s been such a crazy year! But I have leaned a lot on my family and they have helped me stay sane this year!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
No – I don’t think there’s such a thing as work/life balance, I prefer to call it Life Work Fit. Work is just a part of life, there’s no way to “balance” something that is a part of something else. The best we can do is fit work into life, and know that life is multifaceted. The more employers try to help employees “fit” work into life, the more balanced we all will become.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a certified dog obedience trainer!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Meditate every morning.
Think of the top 1-2 things that have the most impact for you, your team or your business and focus on them.
Try to get anything small and easy done and out of the way so you can use your best thinking time to tackle the hard stuff.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Doing what you can to make the world better for other people.